Going for Two Is a Numbers Game

Circle below the best-fit answer:

What are the chances the Oregon Ducks go for two following their first touchdown?

Very Unlikely     Unlikely     Beats Me     Likely     Very Likely

The statistics are overwhelming. How many times did the scoreboard read 8-? in favor of the Ducks? According to goducks.com, the Ducks were 95% in points-after-touchdown attempts. Now, you’re probably thinking that statistic should be 100% because a 20-yard field goal is just a pitch shot, right? That stat is lower because the Ducks are risky and often go for two following the first touchdown. They see the extra point as an opportunity for more. Not many teams take that opportunity; therefore, not many are prepared to face an opponent that does.

In a post practice press conference at the Hatfield-Dowlin complex, I got the opportunity to interview QB Taylor Alie on what it’s like to get the call from the sideline to “go for it.”

Oregon meets Florida State in the 101st Rose Bowl, and first ever National Playoff Semifinal game January 1, 2015.

Craig Strobeck

Oregon meets Florida State in the 101st Rose Bowl and the first ever National Playoff Semifinal game January 1, 2015.

Before coming to Oregon, Alie sported a Sheldon High School football jersey on Friday nights. In 2012, he led the Irish to a state title. While thinking about his next step, Alie watched Oregon QB Joey Harrington (1998-2001) lead the Ducks. Making the decision to play for Oregon was easy for Alie.

“Growing up I watched Joey Harrington. He was the quarterback at the time I really started to get into college football,” says Alie. “It was always a dream to play at the next level and to play on this stage is amazing.”

In 2013, Alie walked onto the team and eventually worked his way into a role not many would account for. According to the 2014 football statistics on goducks.com, Alie was 18 for 21 on holding for field goals, 79 for 83 in Points After Touchdown (PATs), and ran for a pair of two-point conversions, vs. South Dakota and UCLA. He also added two throws, against Michigan State and Florida State in the Rose Bowl.

The decision to go for two following the touchdown is a combination of both Alie and the coaches’ reads. If the opponent looks to be on its heels and not prepared when the Ducks spread out? Advantage: Ducks. When the offense just went 80 yards in under two minutes and the defense looks winded? Advantage: Ducks. Why not go for two?

Alie (12) ready for the hold vs. UW.

Craig Strobeck

Alie (12) ready for the hold vs. UW

The Ducks just make it look easy, don’t they? I know that teams watch film on the Ducks, studying offensive plays and defensive formations, but do they fast-forward over the conversions?

“You can tell the teams that did take the time to study film and they’re well-prepared. Usually we just get one point in that case,” says Alie. Or in last year’s case, four attempts.

Spread out, count the jerseys, see the advantage, snap and score. “I think one reason why we go for two is because we have such a potent offense and we can score so quickly. But if we do go for two and don’t get it, then we can come right back and score another six.”

I love seeing the Ducks go for two. It is such a risk-reward play that definitely works in the Ducks’ favor, especially on home turf. It is a numbers game and as a Business and Economics major, Alie is comfortable assessing the situation, counting the numbers and making the play. “It’s like playing quarterback for a play. It is amazing to be out there and to perform like that.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1S5wIm2528

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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